Karzai urges negotiations with Taliban

11 June 2008

Karzai urges negotiations with Taliban

During his visit to the Netherlands, Afghan President Hamid Karzai this morning spoke with members of both houses of the national parliament. He emphasised that hard work must be done on political solutions to the problems in Afghanistan. “In the end Afghanistan's success will not be determined by military means," said President Karzai. "A political process of state formation in which as many groups as possible from Afghan society are involved is the key to a durable development of our country."

Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel and Senator Arjan Vliegenthart, together representing the SP at the meeting, asked Karzai about the role of the Taliban in these political plans. The president argued in reply that a distinction must be drawn between the hard core of the Taliban, supported from inside Pakistan, and local supporters of the group. The latter did not act against the new government or the Western powers on the basis of a clear ideology, but resisted because they felt themselves to be excluded. “The former group we have to defeat, but the latter must be negotiated with. They deserve to take their place in the new Afghanistan.”

In this, the international community also plays an important role, he added. Western troops should distinguish between the two groups within the Taliban. "The soldiers on the ground are well-placed to do this. Making a distinction between the fundamentalists and the non-ideological Taliban is the easier part of the political process."

In addition, the international community must direct its energies towards the sources of fundamentalism - which in Karzai's view are to be found in Pakistan - in order to suppress them. Only in this way can the Taliban be effectively combated, he concluded.

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